Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Frank Sharry on Immigration Reform

Frank Sharry, formerly of the National Immigration Forum, and now of America's Voice, offers this view of immigration reform:

I am an immigrant advocate. I have worked in the nation's capitol for more than a decade in pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would enfranchise millions of undocumented workers, reunite families separated for years by restrictions and backlogs, and admit needed workers in a way that would protect their rights, and do so in a way that would restore the rule of law to our nation's dysfunctional immigration system.

A year ago I predicted that an admittedly flawed comprehensive immigration reform bill would clear the U.S. Senate, get improved and approved in the House of Representatives, and be signed into law. I was wrong. In June of 2007 the Senate bill crashed and burned before the House ever had a chance to take it up.

The so-called "grand bargain" that had been birthed in a back room by the White House and leading Republicans and Democrats in the Senate turned out to be an orphan. The right wing went nuts and mobilized in opposition to what it called an "amnesty" bill. Many in the progressive community stayed on the sidelines or actually opposed what they saw as a Bush- and business- friendly bill that was not sufficiently pro-worker and pro-immigrant.

Those of us who supported the Senate bill held our noses in doing so. We knew the Senate bill was deeply flawed, but we believed the legalization component for the 12 million undocumented immigrants was decent and the family reunification provisions could be fixed before final passage, and we were hopeful that if the bill passed the Senate, the House would make it more worker- and immigrant-friendly on a number of fronts. Truth be told, we were motivated as much by fear as by hope, for we worried that in the aftermath of a failed immigration reform effort, the situation for immigrant workers and families on the ground would become a living hell. Click here for the rest of this piece.

bh

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